ISSUE 33                                                                                         April 2, 2020
Taiwan Weekly
Reliable report and analysis of the most important issues in Taiwan
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As Pandemic Takes Toll on Tourism Industry, Taiwan Announces Additional Subsidies
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has hit Taiwan's tourism industry hard.
(Photo from: United Daily News)
Featured News
Government Enters to Rescue Tourism Industry, Nearly Doubling Subsidies

Economic Daily News, March 26, 2020


As a remedy to rescue tourism-related industries which have suffered from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the government launched on March 26 additional subsidies totaling NT$7 billion (about US$231 million) in subsidies for 140,000 people in the businesses of tourism, hotel, hostel, homestay, travel, amusement and so on. Executive Yuan announced yesterday that in order to stabilize the employment for tourism-related businesses, government’s subsidies to each employee will be raised from NT$10,000 (about US$330) to NT$20,000 (about US$660) per month. The total budget will be raised up to NT$7 billion.


In the press conference held at the Executive Yuan yesterday, Minister without portfolio Kung Ming-hsin explained that the above remedy measures may benefit 3,500 hotels, 3,100 travel businesses, 25 tourist and sightseeing enterprises, 8,000 homestays, with a total of 140,000 employees. The additional subsides are scheduled to take effect from April and be open to application shortly.


Take Ming, a tourist-related business employee whose monthly salary is NT$ 50,000 dollars (about US$1,651), as an example. If Ming’s company had been impacted by the coronavirus epidemic and thus forced to cut employee’s salary to 80 percent, that is, NT$40,000 (about US$1,321) per month. If this company fits the conditions for the additional subsidies plan, then both the government and the employer will pay 40 percent of Ming’s salary. That is, government and employer each pay NT$20,000 dollars per month to Ming for three months.


Minister Kung expressed that currently the most hardship businesses been pounded by coronavirus epidemic are travel, hotel, hostel, homestay, and amusement industries whose business revenue have dropped as low as only 10 percent of regular volume.


Kung emphasized that the additional subsidies plan was decided after a discussion between President Tsai Ing-wen and Premier Su Tseng-chang in a hope to stabilize 140,000 jobs for tourism-related business employees. The additional subsidies apply to businesses whose revenue have a sharp decline of 50 percent, without taking Ministry of Labor’s unpaid leave subsidy and guaranteed to pay their employees no less than 80 percent of original salary.


The salary of the employees from above-mentioned businesses that meet the conditions, will be paid by the government and business owner, each, 40 percent of salary. As to the government’s responsibility, the subsidy’s ceiling is NT$20,000 per person per month up to three months from April to June. The original plan is budgeted NT$4.2 billion (about US$138 million) but was increased to NT$7 billion (about US$231 million). If this additional subsidy plan is still not enough to meet the need, then government may use Ministry of Labor’s Employment Stabilizing Fund.


Minister Kung further explained that the additional subsidies plan has increased the total amount of subsidy from NT$4.2 billion to NT$7 billion. It is now estimated sufficient. If not, the Executive Yuan may ask Ministry of Transportation and Communications to draft a plan to appropriate its Employment Stabilizing Fund. Kung added that Ministry of Transportation and Communications has held a meeting yesterday with representatives from tourism-related businesses. All participants appreciated the additional subsidies plan.


According to the previous play by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, it would subsidize employees’ salaries up to 20 percent with a ceiling of NT$10,000, and the employers pay the rest. The revised plan may alleviate the burden of employers.


The additional subsidies plan was welcomed and praised by two large businesses, Lion Travel and Leofoo Development.


Featured Editorial
In order to rescue the tourism industry, Taiwan is implementing additional subsidies to the tourism industry.
(Photo from: China Times)

Instead of Subsidies, Let Tourism Industry Help with Home Quarantine

United Daily News Editorial, March 27, 2020


To relieve the tourism industry, the Executive Yuan declared to allocate ten billion dollars to increase salary subsidy of the stranded tourist industry, raising from 20 percent to 40 percent of salary subsidies with additional NT$100,000 (about US$3,300) to each travel agency each month as emergency fund for a period of three months. This measure was criticized by the industry as a waste of money. Many small-sized travel agencies registered under other larger agencies were not losing money yet were entitled to receive three hundred thousand dollars tantamount to waste of taxpayers’ money. To this, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) instructed to consider the size of the travel agencies and increase subsidy in proportion to size. This reveals that the government was eager to save economy, desired to squander money without principled criteria.


On the other hand, the pressure of the government’s epidemic prevention work surged recently as more and more citizens returned from overseas, the number of citizens listed for home quarantine increased sharply to 40,000 to 50,000 rendering the serious understaffed situation to the extent of out of management. In the populated cities like Taipei and New Taipei, some village chiefs were over exhausted in locating those home quarantined running around ignoring the interdiction. Even many tickets for violation were fixed with penalty of million dollars each, some still did not care at all. According to statistics by the National Police Administration, each day they received 50 to 60 lost contact notifications, these numbers would become the loophole of Taiwan’s epidemic prevention efforts.


Here, we have seen two views of stark contrast. Under the impact of epidemic and isolationism policy, tourist and travel industry almost cease their operations, even five-star hotels collapse while the government can only offer money subsidy as a prescribed assistance measure. On the other hand, those frontline epidemic prevention medical staffs, valley and police officers while burnt out in caring, inspecting and monitoring possible sources of infection, still had to bear with irrational complaints and accusations. We are curious as to why the government does not try to consider muster the idling manpower of tourist and hotel industry to assist the work of inspection of epidemic and monitoring of the home quarantined?  


While countries globally are entrapped in the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the government, apart from all-out effort to prevent the epidemic from propagation, should aggressively adjust the national resource to support the need of the epidemic prevention units in all fronts. For instance, masks are the fundamental equipment for national epidemic prevention, therefore the government mobilized in urgency the military to assistant the mask production. Then, with the surge of second wave of imported cases and the serious insufficiency of inspection manpower, the priority is obvious to make up this shortage of manpower. The main responsibility of Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung, who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center, is mainly in medical care and public health; as to the adjustment of logistic manpower, can anyone in the whole cabinet of the Executive Yuan come to his help?


As to the depression of tourist industry, MOTC Minister Lin Chia-lung has continuously proffered all sorts of subsidy policies, based upon his own duty consideration. But before the onslaught of COVID-19, the MOTC has proffered subsidy measures for many times in the past two years; at the present time any increase of salary subsidy is just a game of the old rut and cannot surely save this quality-weak industry. In fact, even the government must subsidize, it can devise a fairer, more effective and reasonable measure rather than squander money in block format. To squander money without considering its effectiveness, price and perspective, the multitude of people can hardly agree.


In our view, the government should utilize the currently idle man power of the tourist industry and invite them to join the understaffed epidemic prevention front in infection inspection and monitoring the home quarantined; meanwhile adjust the subsidy in proportion to the degree of participation by the industry’s various sectors. As such, it can add the feeling of fulfillment to the tourist industry in epidemic prevention, reinforce the combat capacity of the epidemic prevention fronts, block the loophole of running around of the quarantined, dissolve the objection of free subsidy and showcase the concerted social force in epidemic prevention.


The current stable epidemic situation allows us to deploy with ease and squander money aimlessly. In retrospect, mainland China after the severe onslaught of the coronavirus has designed green, yellow and red “health code” passes as identification cards for returning employees and were speedy in circulation use. Besides, local governments adopted “point to point” labor force supply, transporting epidemic screened man power directly to the plants of those industries in urgent need. A batch of peasants from poor counties in Heilongjiang Province were able to work in the city of Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, through this arrangement.


After the epidemic subsides, whether Taiwan’s tourism industry can revive depends on amending the government’s cross-strait policies. Otherwise, the dismal situation of only 163 mainland Chinese tourists in February will probably persist. At any rate, the invitation of government to tourist industry to join the epidemic prevention work will help Taiwan to weather through the storm.



Featured Opinion

Value Choices of Ethnic Chinese Societies Facing Pandemic

By Yangsun Chou

United Daily News, March 28, 2020


President Donald Trump of the United States referred to the coronavirus (COVID-19) as “Chinese Virus” and caused a big outcry in public opinion but later changed his position to avoid allegations of racial discrimination. According to Vice President Mike Pence, the U.S. position is against communism, not Chinese people. In ethnic Chinese societies around the world, various responses have been elicited. In summary, they can be categorized into five broad points of view, which are worthy of more thorough consideration.


First is the view of Trump fans. They trust President Trump and find him right in all circumstances. Therefore, not only should China apologize to the United States, Chinese people should also confess and take moral responsibility. If financial resources permit, China should also pay compensation to infected people worldwide. Only with such profound and sincere remorse can China be forgiven by President Trump and other world powers.


Second is the belief in “American exceptionalism” and “America first.” This view may not find agreement with President Trump, but it is certain that the United States is definitely the most advanced and civilized country, and Americans are the best! The Chinese must learn from the United States in terms of its advanced civilization and universal values. The coronavirus is exactly the contest between democracy and authoritarian rule. Based on this belief, America will win in the end.


Third, the perspective of Chinese identity and self-reliance. This view holds that American society has many outstanding characteristics, but they also recognize that the United States is a “WASP” country, mainly composed of white (W), Anglo-Saxon (AS), and Protestant (P) people. Minority groups such as Chinese, Koreans, African Americans, and Latinos, are not immune to discrimination. Therefore, in the face of President Trump’s humiliation, the Chinese must fight back vigorously and keep calm and united to protect themselves. They are skeptical of the American slogan of “racial equality.” At present, many Chinese communities in the United States are united and self-reliant, which reflect their true state of mind against racial discrimination.


Fourth, identification with Chinese values and China. This view finds that Chinese culture does have precious values distinct from Western civilizations, including family ethics, collectivism, social welfare, benevolent government, and the spirit of moderation. In responding to the pandemic, the view espouses a spirit of helping your neighbor and the distressed and aid those in peril. Based on this, in the face of President Trump’s outrageous remarks and actions, the Chinese should be more outspoken and vigorously fight back, rather than tolerate or hide.


Fifth and finally, support for the party-state and Communist China. Many Chinese-language media coverage reflect the propaganda of the ruling Communist Party, some of which are serious and formal, and worthy of reference. However, there are also many rough, unscrupulous, and untruthful propaganda, which have actually caused adverse effects. However, if scrutinized carefully, the official statement is that although those people who are responsible did make misjudgment and delays in the decision-making process during the initial spread of the epidemic, the subsequent measures were mostly positive and effective. As for the haggling of the origin of novel coronavirus epidemic, there are differing opinions. Cui Tiankai, China’s ambassador to the United States, said that the origin of the pandemic is still pending advanced scientific evidence. In other words, President Trump’s accusations to China are rude and harm relations between China and the United States.


Ambassador Cui’s words are quite significant. That is, let the scientific evidence tell the truth. As for what is true or false, right of wrong, with respect to the five aforementioned points of view, only subsequent developments can tell us.

(The author is adjunct professor of political science at National Quemoy University and Chinese Culture University.)



 This Week in Taiwan
On March 26, President Donald Trump of the United States signed the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act into law.
(Photo from: China Times)

March 24: In order to strengthen epidemic prevention, Taiwan imposed a transit ban effective for two weeks. The Executive Yuan also announced a new wave of relief policies, including deferring tax payments for a year and postponing installment payments for three years. Discounts will also be applied to utility bills and gas.

March 25: The first confirmed case of Taiwanese flight attendant was diagnosed. After two China Airlines cargo pilots were diagnosed with the coronavirus (COVID-19), one Eva Air flight attendant was infected, as well as one non-Taiwanese flight attendant. At present, there are four individuals in Taiwan’s aviation industry and a Dutch deputy pilot have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. Fears have begun to spread in the aviation industry.

March 25: In order to avoid mass transmission, the Central Epidemic Command Center announced that it would suspend public gatherings indoors with more than 100 people and outdoors with more than 500 people. The National Palace Museum has restricted entry to 100 visitors at a time.

March 26: After a 10-month push in the United States House of Representatives and Senate, President Donald Trump officially signed the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act into law. The TAIPEI Act calls upon the executive branch to target countries that harm Taiwan’s security and consider changing economic, security, and diplomatic contacts with such countries.

March 27: A British woman and her boyfriend traveled to Taiwan and had to be quarantined for 14 days. Her mother complained to the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) that the quarantine center was like a prison, and her daughter received poor treatment. The British woman took the initiative to apologize to the Health Bureau of Hualien County, saying that she was not aware of her mother’s actions. The BBC has also removed the news report.

March 28: Minister of the Interior Hsu Kuo-yung officially referred Director-General Chen Ja-chin of the National Police Agency (NPA) to the Taipei District Prosecutor’s Office on the grounds of Chen’s involvement with forged documents in handling personnel cases. The prosecution returned the case on the grounds that the letter sent by the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) was incomplete. This was the first time that the MOI referred a director-general of the NPA to the legal authorities but saw the case withdrawn. Outsiders interpret the drama as a power struggle between factions within the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Taiwan Weekly is a newsletter released every week by Fair Winds Foundation and Association of Foreign Relations that provides coverage and perspectives into the latest developments in Taiwan.

The conclusions and recommendations of any Taiwan Weekly article are solely those of its author(s), and do not reflect the views of the institutions that publish the newsletter.

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